Elegant Escape will try to realise a long-term plan when he lines up in the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury on Saturday week.
The Colin Tizzard-trained six-year-old was placed three times at the top level last term and warmed up for his Grade Three handicap assignment with victory in an intermediate chase at Sandown earlier this month.
Elegant Escape won by just half a length on that occasion, but assistant trainer Joe Tizzard expects that outing to have brought about plenty of improvement in the ante-post favourite.
He said: “He has been good and is a horse that will definitely sharpen up for the run. He is quite laid-back at home and with the ground as it was, we weren’t able to get away so we were really keen to get a race into him.
“I thought he performed really well and Tom O’Brien was really happy with him. He didn’t really get stuck into him and had he jumped the last, he thought he would have won a bit better.
“We’ve been talking about the Ladbrokes Trophy with him since the beginning of the new year. He is a second-season chaser that is rated above 150, so he ticks a lot of the boxes.”
On what might be for Elegant Escape should all go well, Tizzard added: “It would have to be natural progression (to be a Gold Cup horse). He is very similar to Native River and that is certainly in the back of our minds.
“But he has got to step up on what he has done and has got to win a Ladbrokes Trophy, then step up again.”